Oh, my heart is beating wildly
And it’s all because you’re here
When I’m not near the girl I love
I love the girl I’m near
– Finian’s Rainbow
My co-author suggested, in addition to a GIVEAWAY (see below), we use our first blog post on Austen Authors to talk about our newest book, Courting Elizabeth, which came out this month. She emailed me “… it may be fun for you as you could explain the growth of the idea.” Sometimes I can’t tell what single idea starts my writing a story, but in this instance I can. Courting Elizabeth was born of a single line in Darcy’s infamous letter, referring to Bingley.
“I had often seen him in love before.”
Suppose Bingley’s attraction to Jane wasn’t true love, but the idle attraction brought about by propinquity and would disappear when he left Netherfield Park, only to be replaced by another relationship. Can you imagine it? I can, and did. Of course, anyone reading Courting Elizabeth might wonder that this is what started the plot, because Bingley doesn’t actually appear in the first third of the book, but this is the nature of writing.
A second impetus for this book revolves around a question that has always bothered me: Why was Lady Catherine so insistent on having Anne marry Darcy? Presumably, Anne would inherit Rosings, and could have her choice of a number of well-connected, wealthy men. I came up with motivation, that Lady Catherine feels anyone else would want to live at Rosings, but Darcy would bring Anne to Pemberley, allowing Lady Catherine to remain the mistress of Rosings. I decided to make Lady Catherine totally unreasonable in attaining her goal. These two separate ideas led to Courting Elizabeth.
In order to insert Elizabeth into Darcy’s milieu, I needed more of Darcy’s connections. I invented Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother, who is implied by Jane Austen, but not actually named. I called him Henry, and originally expected him to be a minor character. Somehow, he stormed into the book and took over a number of scenes. One reviewer said, “I think I fell in love a little with Henry, what a fun date he would be.” He definitely was fun to write.
So, I pose to you two questions:
- Do you think Bingley should ever end up with anyone but Jane?
- Why do you believe Lady Catherine was so determined Anne should wed Darcy?
Now, for the GIVEAWAY! To celebrate Courting Elizabeth, we’re giving away four copies:
- A print copy signed by Renata McMann
- A print copy signed by Summer Hanford
- A kindle copy
- A kindle copy
To enter, just comment below. The GIVEAWAY will end at midnight EST on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016.
Below is the opening scene of Courting Elizabeth. Hopefully it will tempt you.
Darcy set aside his pen. He flattened his hand alongside the word-covered sheets resting on the mahogany desk, surprised at the stiffness in his fingers. He, a man often deemed terse, had filled the pages. It seemed, for once, he had much to say.
Was it too much? He looked down at the letter he’d written Elizabeth, his rejoinder to her startling rejection of his proposal. Jumbled candlelight made the words seem almost to move, alive on the page. Now that Darcy had it all down, he was unsure he shouldn’t simply burn it.
He’d begun, he knew, in anger. Why shouldn’t he have? She’d pricked him, heart and pride, her rejection made all the more painful by its inconceivableness. A woman of her means, rejecting him? It was unprecedented, surely.
He’d never before put forth his heart in such a manner. He wouldn’t have done so that afternoon if he’d any inkling she would decline him. Now, he must bear this bitter weight pressing down on his chest. Bear it and give no indication of it, for a man did not reveal such sentiments and a Darcy of Pemberley certainly did not acknowledge how sorely it hurt to be rebuked by such a low person as Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Darcy leaned back in his chair. So why, then, had he permitted himself to write the letter? He reached for it, thinking to crumple it. He knew the secrets it revealed better belonged to the flames in the hearth than in Elizabeth’s hands.
With a sigh, Darcy returned his hand to the desktop, leaving the pages untouched. He wrote to her out of hope, and he couldn’t persuade himself to lightly abandon it. A small, lingering sliver of that cursed emotion whispered that if he could set right her misconceptions about him, he could still win her. He knew after her vehement rejection it sullied him to curry her favor, but he couldn’t deny himself the painful boon of a second chance.
Yet, the secrets contained within those neat lines weren’t his alone, and the emotions portrayed, for all his careful wording, were too raw. Darcy shook his head. He needed to walk, to think. He couldn’t deliver the letter now, in the dark of night. He would employ the time he had to decide between delivering it to Elizabeth or to the flames.
Pushing back his chair, he stood. Taking his coat for warmth, not for appearances, as all had retired for the evening, he left his room. He caught a glimpse of a skirt disappearing around the corner ahead but, sparing little thought to whatever servant had been scurrying about, he made his way outside. For long hours, Darcy paced in the moonlit garden, Elizabeth’s words and visage his lone companions.
Finally, resolved, Darcy retraced his steps. He would give the letter to Elizabeth. There was no shame in further revealing himself to her. He’d already been laid bare. As for the secrets contained therein, though she’d hurt him, he still deemed her trustworthy. He’d seal the letter tonight, and tomorrow would see it in her hands.
Darcy entered his room and crossed to the desk, but the letter was gone.